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Did the Redskins hire the right Bengals coordinator?

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Did the Redskins hire the right Bengals coordinator?

Less than a week after the Redskins hired Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be their new head coach, Minnesota hired Cincinnati’s other coordinator. Mike Zimmer, the defensive guru for the Bengals, was announced as the ninth head coach in the Vikings’ history on Wednesday.

The Redskins requested an interview with Zimmer per NFL protocol when you are interested in talking to another team’s coordinator about your head coaching job. But the interview never happened. The Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, Gruden came to town for his interview on Tuesday evening and he never left.

There were some who thought that Zimmer might be a better fit for the Redskins as they have had big issues have on the defensive side of the ball. Even with Marvin Lewis, who made his reputation on the defensive side of the ball, at head coach the Bengals finished no better than 17th in total defense from 2003-2007. Since Zimmer joined them in 2008 they have been in the top 10 in defense four times including the last three years in a row. Not coincidentally, the Bengals made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Was Zimmer more what the Redskins need? They have not been in the top 10 defensively since 2009. As we saw from three of the NFC’s final four teams, a solid defense can be a young quarterback’s best friend. Defensive improvement may be the best way for Robert Griffin III to join peers Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Cam Newton as participants in the deep rounds of the playoffs.

I don’t think that anyone would have had a legitimate beef if Zimmer had been the guy. But for this team at this time, Gruden is probably the better fit.

Zimmer’s approach is similar to that of the departed Mike Shanahan, the old-school my way or the highway style. Gruden can get riled up when it’s called for (as we saw on Hard Knocks) but he is more of the enthusiastic, collaborative type coach. He is the breath of fresh air that this team needs rather than more of the same following the failed Shanahan regime.

And make no mistake about it, the fact that he was a quarterback in college and in the Arena League is a big factor in him being the right guy for the job. The most important task on this team for the next few years will be the development of Griffin. The fact that the head coach walked in Griffin’s shoes (or a version of them, anyway) will help in getting Griffin where he needs to be.

Still, as noted, Zimmer would have been a very solid hire in Washington as well. The good thing is, we’ll get some evidence as to whether the Redskins made the right choice on the field of play. The Vikings will be one of the Redskins’ opponents in 2014. While on head-to-head matchup won’t tell the whole story it could give us an idea of who is further ahead.

The full story, of course, will take a few years to unfold.

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Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

An undeniable talent, Reuben Foster seemed for months to be a lock for the Top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Alabama star is a sure tackler, playmaking force and winner of the 2016 Dick Butkus Award as the nation's best college linebacker.

The actual football season went great for Foster, he logged 115 tackles and was named the SEC Championship Game MVP. Since play on the field stopped, things have stalled. Foster had an unfortunate incident at the NFL Combine, where he was sent home after an altercation with a hospital worker. In the time since, it's come out Foster tested positive for a diluted urine sample and will enter the NFL in the substance abuse program. 

Still, despite a tough two months, Foster's talent is too rich to pass up for some NFL teams. And per NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, the Redskins could be that team

In his mock draft released Wednesday, Zierlein predicts Foster's draft day slide to end with Washington at the 17th pick. From NFL.com:

Foster could fall due to off-field concerns and worries about injuries, but he fits a need for the Redskins, bringing a tough playmaker into the fold.

Beyond the diluted sample and the combine altercation, Foster also has had stinger issues throughout his career at 'Bama. He has elite speed at the linebacker position and the type of athleticism defensive coordinators dream about, though some pro scouts question if he can handle the calls of a Mike linebacker in the NFL game.

The Redskins are not desperate for interior linebacker help, this season. The team added Zach Brown in free agency, re-signed 2016 defensive captain Will Compton earlier this week and Mason Foster remains under contract. All three players, however, are headed to free agency in 2018. Adding Foster would provide depth this year and a potential star in the future.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

Final Redskins seven-round mock draft: Defense first, a surprise in the third

We’re a day away from the start of the NFL draft and all the questions surrounding the Redskins’ intentions will start to get answered when they go on the clock at about 10 p.m. on Thursday.

[More Redskins: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Speaking at the team’s annual pre-draft news conference, Scott Campbell, the team’s director of college scouting, stuck with the company line when he was asked about making picks based on team needs.

“I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said. “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.”

It would be a big “bonus” for the Redskins if a defensive lineman who can rush the passer and stuff the run was the best player on the board when their first-round pick comes up at No. 17. But it doesn’t look like the board will play out that way. That’s OK because the Redskins have plenty of needs.

In fact, it’s not hard to do a mock draft for the Redskins because they have needs at virtually every position. Certainly, some needs are more urgent than others. But once you get past the first couple of rounds there is enough doubt at each position, whether it’s immediate depth or possible free agency holes in 2018, to get that need “bonus” with every pick.

Campbell said that this is a strong defensive draft and this is reflected in these mock selections, with six of the 10 picks going to defense including the top two. The first offensive pick may surprise some but the talent was just too good at that point in the draft.

Go here to see the full seven-round mock draft.

Your comments are welcome, as always. Make them here in the comments or hit me up on Twitter and Facebook.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.